When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
I. THE COMING OF THE PARALYTIC is full of teaching for those who are now seeking the Saviour.
1. He had friends who helped him. Powerless to move, he was peculiarly dependent on their kindness. A sufferer from palsy not only needs much patience and resignation himself, but creates a demand for it in others, and so may prove by his presence in the home to be a means of grace to those called on to minister to him. To serve and help those who are permanent invalids is a holy service, to which many are secretly called, who therein may prove themselves good and faithful servants of the Lord. Such ministration needs a gentle hand, a patient spirit, a courageous heart, and a noble self-forgetfulness. Above all, we should endeavour to bring our sick ones to the feet of Jesus, that they may rejoice in his pardoning love. Our counsels, our example, and our prayers may do for them what these people did for their paralyzed friend.
2. He found difficulties in approaching Christ. The crowd was impassable. They ascended the staircase outside (Matthew 24:17), and so reached the fiat roof. Then they broke up the covering of the roof and let down the bed on which the sick of the palsy lay. These obstacles tried their faith, proved and purified it. There are difficulties in the way of our approach to Christ; some of which may be removed by our friends, others of which can only be overcome by our own faith and courage. Prejudices, easily besetting sins, evil companions, are examples.
3. The difficulties were victoriously surmounted. The fact that they were so was a manifest proof of the faith which animated this man and his friends. Some way is always open to those eager for salvation, though it may be one that seems unusual to onlookers.
II. THE GRACIOUSNESS OF THE SAVIOUR.
1. He knew the man's deepest wants. Probably the paralytic was more troubled about his sin than about his sickness, although his friends did not know it. We ought to be more anxious about the soul than about the body. Christ Jesus reads our secret thoughts. "He knew what was in man." He noticed and exposed the unexpressed anger of his enemies (ver. 8). But while he discovers the secret sin, far more readily does he discern the silent longing for pardon.
2. He was willing and waiting to bless. There was no delay. The strange interruption to teaching was not resented but welcomed. At once he spoke the word of pardon for which the man's heart was hungering, although he foresaw the indignation and scorn which would follow on the declaration, "Thy sins be forgiven thee." Divine love is not to be restrained by human narrowness, whether in the Church or outside it.
3. He showed himself ready and able to forgive. Possibly our Lord saw a connection between this illness and some special sin. He guards us, however, against supposing that it is always so (Luke 13:15; John 9:3). Perhaps the secret pangs of conscience were in the way of physical restoration here. Sometimes pardon was given after cure (Luke 17:19; John 5:14). The scribes were right in their declaration that none but God can forgive sins. The Levitical priests, under the old dispensation, were authorized to announce Divine forgiveness, as God's representatives, after the offering of appointed sacrifices; but the scribes very properly recognized that Jesus claimed to do far more than that. He admitted that it was so, and as the Son of man (Daniel 7:13) he claimed the power they denied him, and at once gave a proof that the power was actually his. They might have argued that there was no evidence that the man's sins were forgiven; that Jesus was making a safe claim, which could not be tested. In order to meet this he said in effect, "I will now claim and exercise a power the result of which you can see; and it shall either brand me as an impostor, or else it shall be a sign that my former utterance had effect." Then said he to the sick of the palsy, "Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house." Like that man, may our recovered and redeemed powers be instantaneously used in obedience to Christ. - A.
When Jesus saw their faith.
(H. M. Luckock, D. D.)
(H. C. Trumbull.)
I. It deepened their sympathy for this sufferer. If they pitied before, they would have a keener sympathy now they believed that a cure was possible.
II. It devised a scheme for bringing him to Christ.
III. It carried out that scheme in the most extraordinary way.
IV. It attracted the admiration of Christ. He saw their faith.
V. It obtained a cure for the sufferer. Their faith.
The Sunday School Times.An evangelist of today tells that, after one of his meetings, he observed that a little girl kept her seat after all others had left. Thinking that the child was asleep, he stepped forward to awaken her, but found she was praying that God would send her drunken father to that meeting house that very night, there to be converted. The evangelist waited, and soon a man came rushing in from the street, and knelt tremblingly at the child's side. He had been brought thither by a sudden impulse which he could not resist, and then and there he found Christ. The child's faith was honoured in the conversion of her father.
(The Sunday School Times.)
I. We see the reasonableness of INTERCESSION. If God is pleased to employ some men as visible instruments of general good, we may rationally suppose that He often, in a more secret and invisible manner, connects the happiness of many with the fervent prayers of a few, or even one godly soul. Of the Jews, in a corrupt period, the apostle says, "they were beloved for their fathers' sake." Some will ask, perhaps, how is it reasonable that our future happiness should be made to depend on another's prayers? We have not the command of their hearts, we cannot oblige them to pray for us; why should we be exposed to suffer for their neglect? What if, in His good providence, He brings you in the way of some useful warnings and instructions, and grants you some awakened and convincing influences of His kind spirit, when you have not sought them? And what if He does this in answer to the fervent prayers of others? Will you say that all this is wrong?
II. We see from this subject that the doctrine of Scripture concerning our being involved IN THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE PRIMITIVE APOSTASY IS AGREEABLE TO THE ANALOGY OF PROVIDENCE.
III. THAT OUR SALVATION THROUGH THE ATONEMENT AND RIGHTEOUSNESS OF A REDEEMER APPEARS TO CORRESPOND WITH THE GENERAL CONSTITUTION OF GOD'S MORAL GOVERNMENT. It is an essential part of the Divine plan that the virtue of some should not only benefit themselves, but extend its kind and salutary influence to others. We see this to be the case among men; and probably it is the case among all moral beings except those who are in a state of punishment. The angels, we are told, are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation.
IV. OUR SUBJECT REMOVES THE PRINCIPAL OBJECTION URGED AGAINST THE DEDICATION OF INFANTS TO GOD IN THE ORDINANCE OF BAPTISM. For it shows that some may be benefited by the faith of others. It is often asked, "What advantage is baptism to infants? They have no knowledge of the use and design of it. They have not that faith which is required to baptism. If they are baptized, it cannot be on their own faith, it must be on the faith of their parents; and what benefit can they derive from the faith of another?" But this is no more an objection against the baptism of infants than against intercession for infants
V. OUR SUBJECT TEACHES US THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STATION IN WHICH WE ARE PLACED. We are acting not merely for ourselves, but for others, for many others, how many we cannot tell; for we know not how many are connected with us; nor how extensive may be the influence of our good or bad conduct. A holy and religious life is certainly of vast importance to ourselves; for on this depends the happiness of our existence through all the succeeding ages of eternal duration. But when we consider ourselves as standing in a near connection with our fellow probationers; when we realize how much good a sinner may destroy, or a saint promote; how many souls may be corrupted by the example of the one, and how many may be converted by the influence of the other; the importance of our personal religion rises beyond all conception.
VI. WE SEE THAT BENEVOLENCE MUST BE AN ESSENTIAL PART OF TRUE RELIGION. If God has placed us in such a connection with those around us that their virtue and happiness will be affected by our conduct, we are evidently bound to act with a regard to their interest.
(J. Lathrop, D. D.)
Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
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